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Saturday, September 20, 2008

What Do We Learn from War?

It seems we have a penchant to go to war pretty frequently, sometimes for reasons that almost everyone agrees on, and sometimes for reasons that seems to divide as many people as unites them. Why do we do what we do and go to war? Why do we send our sons and daughters, fathers and mothers into harm's way? Why has it always been this way? I'm certainly not a historian, just my take on what's been happening over the years.

Sometimes it's to defend ourselves from tyranny, as it was in the earlier times of our nation, and the Revolution, or because parts of our own nation didn't agree with how each side handled government, and split into several factions, pitting brother against brother in the Civil War.

Sometimes it's been to prevent the global spread of a power such as Germany and the Japanese in World War I and World War II. Sometimes it's been to prevent an aggressor from taking over the land and freedoms of our allies, as it was in Korea, and sometimes it's been to secure the freedom of others who are oppressed under communism or a dictatorship, such as Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

In everyones' eyes, except the British, perhaps, America won the Revolution and became independent. No questions there. Depending on where you ask the question, north or south of the Mason-Dixon line, either the North or the South won the Civil War. Actually the North came out on top, but in my mind, most of the reasons for fighting were never a reason to lose family or fight over, other than perhaps a brawl on the back porch after drinking. It was a draw that left wounds that still fester in some areas to this day. Thankfully, those wounds are finally healing faster than in the past....

World War I and World War II were wars that were basically started in Europe by Germany and had our involvement to stave off takeover of Great Britain by Germany. Although WWI lasted from 1914-1918, we entered in 1917, and a peace treaty was signed in 1919. WWII actually started in 1939 and our involvement didn't officially start until December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Had the US not entered the war, Germany would have steamrolled over the rest of Europe and Asia, continued weapons development, mass genocide and perhaps become unstoppable. No question we had to get involved in a big way. As for the Japanese, they decided their own fate with the attack on Pearl Harbor. The dropping of two nuclear weapons ended the war with Japan with their surrender on August 15, 1945.

So, two more wins, for the American and Allied side as it were. Then as for Korea, I don't know whether that was a clear win, but South Korea remains a free nation after fifty something years, so as far as I'm concerned, we won there too.

Vietnam was a quagmire, a political war that had been fought for eons long before we entered it. A nation in chaos and unrest for centuries and, in my opinion, nothing we did was going to change that as long as politicians pulled the strings. As young warriors we entered the fray ready to change the world for the better and kick butt, and thought the Washington political machine was behind us all the way. Nothing could have been further from the truth. The tide of war could have been turned in six months and the communists routed, had the politicians listened to the military who knew what needed to be done to "clean the clock" of the enemy. But no, it became a political war with air strikes requiring permission and bombing runs cancelled and targets requiring surgical precision for acquisition. But only for the Americans and not for the other side, as always. We play by one set of rules and the opposition has no rules at all. Many people at home opposed the war, although I'm not sure to this day whether they were really opposed to those who gave so much in fighting oppression and tyranny. After all, they were being lied to daily by the same politicians who were directing fire when they hadn't a clue what the hell they were doing. Not fit to be politicians nor military, yet trying to be both and killing and maiming thousands in their stupidity.

Let it be known that we did not lose the war in Vietnam. The politicians finally decided to back out of something that we could have won, but decided to play with for too damned long. Like a dog who grabs a snake by the neck and could have killed it with one bite, but decides to play with it, gets bit too many times, and eventually slinks away. We gained freedom for many thousands of Vietnamese and those in neighboring countries, and paid a heavy price for doing so. A very heavy price that was way too high for what the final outcome was. But, again, the warriors didn't decide the outcome, the politicians did. And, other than a few, like John "fond of Fonda" Kerry, (The thought of those two people nauseates me) all did what had to be done in the name of God and Country.

Then there was the Gulf War, which was won swiftly and decisively. Yet, once again, the politicians screwed up and decided to quit before cleaning house completely. With Iraq in the cross hairs, we left the sands and came home victorious and left Saddam Hussein still in power when we could have marched into Baghdad all in one fell swoop.

So here we are in Afghanistan searching for terrorists and fighting al-Queda and in Iraq fighting God knows who today or tomorrow. We toppled Saddam Hussein effectively and have a mess to clean up. In my opinion, it's turned into another Vietnam, which is a shame. We've traded jungle, mud and monsoons for desert, sand and wind. I would have thought we would have learned something about fighting insurgents and guerrillas by now. These people are insane! They don't care about life! They're freaking crazy and don't care if they die or you die. They murder their kids if they don't agree to marry the right person and kill their wives if their veil is off center! They kill because someone mentions another religion or says a word wrong. They are crazy! And, once again, the damned politicians want the military to fight surgically clean! While the other side fights as dirty as possible and kills and maims at will without regard to anything, we're in there with a scalpel and criticized when a round goes astray. Then we compound it by court martialing our military on charges of murder for doing their job. Yup, throw the good guys to the wolves when you can...why not a couple of stuffed suits from Washington who are really the guilty bastards, just as they were back during Vietnam?

Sad to say, we'll be over there for awhile. At least until the politicians get their fingers off the trigger and let the military make the real decisions. With God's blessing John McCain will be at the helm, and a real military man will make some decisions to kick ass, and then come home sooner rather than later. Make the Iraqis take charge of their affairs and lead the way.

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